WTO members underline importance of safe agri-food trade
At a recent meeting of the Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures, World Trade Organization members stressed the importance of providing a coordinated response to global crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, including respecting international standards set by Codex Alimentarius and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), and respecting the key principles of the WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement (WTO News, 24 June). In particular, the increased use of electronic certification and existing electronic certification tools have been highlighted by many members; many WTO members had notified during the past weeks a permanent move to the IPPC e-Phyto solution for the transmission of phytosanitary certificates.
WTO secretariat highlighted the availability of all SPS-related Covid-19 documents and measures at a dedicated WTO page.
In total, WTO has received 175 Covid-19 related notifications, 40% submitted under the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and 25% under the SPS Agreement. At the start of the period, most notifications contained trade restrictions and increased certification, including general communications and guidelines on the approval of SPS import clearance for meat commodities, and a request for the suspension of the process and entry into force of reductions of maximum residue levels (MRLs) for plant protection products. As of April 2020, most notifications are relating to trade facilitation.